October 2009
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The first day of October found us on the road once again...going south on Route 101 from the Long Beach Thousand Trails Preserve in Seaview, Washington a bit
further down the coast to Pacific City, Oregon.  The three hour drive gave us some spectacular views of the coastline along the Pacific Ocean.  Arriving at the Pacific
City Thousand Trails Preserve we were faced with the challenge of finding a site for our 40' rig.  It took us a while in the very large RV park, but we found a site that we
could get into without too much trouble and settled in for a four day stay.  Our side trips here included a stop in the Village of Pacific City where we enjoyed seeing the
big "Haystack Rock," some dory fishing boats and a huge sand dune with people "sandboarding" down the hill.  On another trip we headed back a little north to the
town of Tillamook.  This was a tasty trip as we took a tour of the dairy cooperative and watched them make and package their famous cheddar cheese and of course
picked up a few samples of the cheese as well as a few of their almost 40 flavors of ice cream...yummy!  Between the towns of Pacific City and Tillamook we drove
the "Three Capes Drive" closer to the coast and stopped at the Cape Meares State Park to see its lighthouse and "octopus tree" and made a stop at the Whiskey
Creek Fish Hatchery where a volunteer explained the process of raising 100,000 Chinook salmon each year to be released in local rivers.
Haystack Rock is over a mile from shore
at Pacific City, Oregon.
The Tillamook Cheese Factory is a cooperative of local
dairy farms started in 1909.
Those squares are 42 pound blocks of cheese
headed for the slicing machine.
The Whiskey Creek Fish Hatchery grow 10,000
Chinook Salmon per year.
Going south from the RV park on yet another day, we drove to Lincoln City.  We noticed a group of people gathered on the beach so we walked out to see what was
going on.  A very nice couple explained to us that they were crabbing...but using slightly different equipment and approach than others we'd seen in the last several
weeks.  The traps they were using had been designed by the owners of the "Mo's Restaurant" chain (famous in these parts for its chowder and fish meals) and could
be used standing right on the beach rather than using a dock.  Sadly, while we were there, the tide was quite high and fast and the conditions weren't very good for a
good catch.  But the group was enjoying themselves around a fire built in old driftwood logs.  A tradition in Lincoln City is their annual "Finders - Keepers" event.  In
past years people have discovered glass Japanese fishing floats (large balls that had been attached to fishing lines) that had washed ashore....a valuable find!  Now,
each year the local glass artists make and sign over 2000 floats and hide them on the beach over a period of several months.  If you find one, you get to keep it.  
Driving along the main street of Lincoln City we noticed the wide open doors of the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio and stopped to watch people blow their own glass
art.  The whole process was intriguing.  We couldn't pass up a short stop at the Factory Outlet Shops and the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City as well.   We also
took advantage of the beach access from the Thousand Trails park to walk on the beach and enjoy the sights and sounds of the surf.
The Three Capes Rocks are off the coast near
Tillamook, Oregon
The Cape Meares Lighthouse is the
shortest on the Oregon Coast.
A Sitka Spruce tree has grown so
strangely it is called "The Octopus
Tree."
Every time we went outside the rig at the Pacific City
Thousand Trails park, the bunnies came running.
After our stay at Pacific City we continued our southward journey going to the town of Florence and the "South Jetty" Thousand Trails Preserve.  Once again, the drive
along Route 101 provided some spectacular views showcasing the diversity of the Oregon Coast.  On the way we stopped in the town of Newport to visit the Oregon
Coast Aquarium.  Unfortunately, the exhibit of otters and seals and the aviary were closed for cleaning.  But we were greatly impressed with the large Plexiglas tunnel
through the ocean.  We had plenty of sharks and other fish swimming over, under and all around us!  We also got to touch and feel lots of other sea creatures in their
"touch pools."  Arriving at the South Jetty park we were once again challenged to find a level, easy access site.  We did, but as in Pacific City, we had only water and
electric hookups.  One thing common with all the Thousand Trails sites we've had lately is that the sites are surrounded with blackberry bushes.  Nothing like fresh
berries each day!
In Florence we took time to try to track down some television cable parts and a nut for our RV hub cap covers...good luck on the cable, bad luck on the wheel part.  We
needed a bigger town.  So, it was back to being tourists...and off we went to the local attraction, the "Sea Lion Cave."  The cave is said to be the largest sea cave in the
world and is inhabited by large group of Stellar sea lions.  We took an elevator from the cliff top down to the cave to view the winter home of the seals, and then walked
to an observation platform where we could see the seals on the rocks and swimming in the ocean.  It was a cold and dreary day, so it didn't look very inviting to us.  
From the platform we could also see the Heceta Head Lighthouse, the most powerful and still working lighthouse on the coast.  The old keeper's home is now a "bed
and breakfast."  On our return route home we stopped at a State of Oregon exhibit of the plant called "Darlingtonia."  This plant grows in a bog environment and is
"carnivorous" in that it traps and absorbs insects.  The blooms were certainly past their peak in October, but it was interesting to see the plants.
Just down the road from the Thousand Trails park is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  We drove out to the end of the road and were amazed at the
change in the coastline.  The rocks and cliffs we'd seen a few miles north were gone and this area was all sand dunes.  There are numerous "off-road vehicle" areas
and plenty of trails to hike up and over the dunes for access to the ocean.  Just a short one gave us a workout!  There is also a pier facing the inland side of the jetty
where people were doing their best to catch crabs.  The traps filled up quickly, but it seemed that the crabs were all too small and the wrong sex.  Downtown "Old
Florence" was another interesting little town with shops, restaurants, fish markets and a colorful marina.
Our last outing from this area was to the town of Reedsport for a visit with more Palm Creek buddies.  Bonnie and Dave Morgan hosted us for a delicious lunch and
then gave us a tour of their little town which has another busy harbor and an active fishing community.  We searched for elk at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, but
they were pretty lazy that afternoon and most of them were back away from the road and resting in the tall grass.  Once again it was a great benefit to have the "locals"
show us around.
After several weeks along the ocean we turned inland and from Florence we drove the rig east to connect with I-5 and headed south.  In Canyonville, OR we stopped at
the Seven Feathers Casino and found a great free parking lot for RVs.  From here we made a day trip to Crater Lake National Park.  It was a long trip, but it was an easier
drive in the car than it would have been in the big rig.  What an amazing place, Crater Lake is!  The lake is about six miles across and 1900 feet deep...the deepest lake
in North America and the seventh deepest in the world.  It has no rivers or streams going in or out of the lake.  The only lake access is by hiking a 1.1 mile trail down 700
feet in elevation - and of course, back up!  That's like a 75 story building.  We passed on that hike, but did enjoy several short walks along the rim of the crater from
various points on the 33-mile drive around the lake.
Leaving Crater Lake we headed south into California...but not without a couple of shopping stops on the way.  Back in Pennsylvania the "hot new item" is "Zhu Zhu
Hamsters,"  battery operated little pets.  Not being able to find them anywhere near their home, our granddaughters had put out a "Mission Impossible" bulletin.  
Grandma and Grandpa accomplished the mission in Roseburg and Grants Pass, Oregon and a family of Zhu Zhus was sent off by priority mail within a few days.
Our crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains wasn't quite as treacherous as the Donner Party's in 1864, but by the time we were headed in that direction the weather was
turning pretty lousy.  Originally, we had planned to spend more time in northern California but a meeting with friends was postponed and we were longing for more
sunshine and warmer weather.  We stopped one night in Redding, CA at the Win River Casino and in Colusa, CA at the Colusa Casino Resort.  We love their free
hospitality, and both of these places had good deals on meals and gave us some free slot play.  We ended up spending two nights in Colusa while the 50 to 60 mile an
hour winds kept us rockin' and rollin' and several inches of rain filled the parking lot.  Venturing out on the third day we faced periods of rain and found snow piled along
the roadway as we climbed higher into the mountains.  When we reached the Donner Pass Summit on I-80 they told us they'd had 4 inches of snow the night before.  We
toured the museum at the Donner Pass State Park and learned more about the trials and tribulations of the emigrants in that hard winter of 1863-64 when only half the
people in the party survived.
From the Donner Pass it was down-hill into the Nevada desert with overnight stops in Reno and Tonopah and on to the town of Pahrump.  We had visited Pahrump several
years ago and the community was trying its best to become a retirement haven.  So, we decided to check it out again.  We settled in for a three night stay at the "Preferred
RV Resort" located pretty much in the center of town.  Pahrump has certainly grown since our last visit, but there wasn't enough to make us think we'd like to settle there
permanently.  So, we moved on once again...unfortunately on a very windy day.  Glad that we didn't have to go any further, we battled 40 mph winds on the 75 mile drive
into Las Vegas and parked at the Thousand Trails Preserve on Boulder Highway.
The first order of business on our week-long stay in Las Vegas was Mary's get-together with her former boss, Judy Sander.  Judy, her husband and some of their high
school friends were celebrating their "milestone" birthdays with a trip to Las Vegas.  Judy and Mary met for lunch at Margaritaville and then visited "The Conservatory"
gardens and water show at the Bellagio Hotel.  We also were able to enjoy the company of our friends Don and Bonnie Wolfe, former Toledoans who now live in Las Vegas.  
We had seen them in Ohio in July and were glad for more get-togethers.  We managed to hit several buffets and took in a little "world travel" visiting Paris with trip to the
top of the Eiffel Tower and a visit to the canals of Venice at The Venetian.  As always, the people watching and the gawking at all the traffic and mega-resorts is awesome.  
We ended our stay in Las Vegas with a performance of "Jersey Boys" at The Pallazo..."Oh, what a night!"
Bright and early on Monday, October 26 we were off to the breakfast buffet at Boulder Station near our RV park and then we were back on the road heading south across
the desert to Ehrenberg,  Arizona on the California border.  We had a one night stay at the Colorado River Oasis Resort and the next day continued east towards Phoenix
and on to Casa Grande, 35 miles south.  Just south of Phoenix the wind really picked up -  and brought sand with it.  We were glad we had only a few more miles to go.  We
had to park and get settled while we once again endured a rockin' and rollin' wind.  A "cold front" followed the winds and our first several days at Palm Creek were quite
cool...about 20 degrees below normal according to the weather reports.  The winds and cold didn't stop us from getting into our familiar activities, however.  It was great
to see our friends again!  The golf course opened for the season on Wednesday the 28th with Mary and three neighborhood friends among the first to take advantage of
the "Ladies only" morning for $6.  Later in the day we joined in the "happy hour" which, for several days was held inside.
We had arranged for a local "wash crew" to clean the summer's grit and grime from our coach, and they arrived on Friday, October 30.  In an hour they accomplished what
would have taken us all day.  After they departed we got started on the waxing.  That took us several days...but we're looking pretty shiny now!  Mary started back to
"work" as a volunteer in the activities office on Saturday mornings.       By the end of the week-and the end of October-the winds were calm and the temperatures were
more like "normal."
Large hunks of driftwood and crabbers lined the beach in Lincoln
City on a chilly Saturday morning.
The crab traps were anchored on the sand
on PVC poles.
The "D River" in Lincoln City, Oregon is said to be the shortest
river in the world.
A glass blower was "doing his thing" to
create a piece of art.
These are examples of "floats" and other items created in the
glass gallery.
Jelly fish at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.
Creatures in the "touch pool" at the Oregon Coast
Aquarium in Newport.
The sea cave where the stellar sea lions
live in the winter.
Sea lions lounging on the rocks along
the Pacific Coast.
Darlingtonia plants trap insects in their stalk from under the
hooded top.
Crabbing at the dunes ---  a big catch, quickly!
They looked big to us, but...
they have to be 5-3/4 inches and male to be keepers.  
Many had to go back into the water.
We hiked some short trails over the dunes....
...and got a view of the Pacific Ocean
Our Palm Creek buddies, Dave and Bonnie Morgan
had also been with us on our Grand Canyon
Colorado River trip last year.
A rather large herd of elk make their home near
Reedsport, OR but it was rather warm the day we
came to visit, so there weren't many out and about.
The Umpqua Lighthouse has red and
white beams at night near Reedsport.
With no streams or rivers entering Crater Lake, the water
is still and calm.
What appears to be an island in the center is actually
part of the rocky crater that has water surrounding its
peak.
The deep water of Crater Lake is a most beautiful blue
color.
Tom wasn't too happy when we
discovered "white stuff" on a trail
at Crater Lake.  "I don't do snow!"
Those of you with grandkids could find these on Santa's
list this year.
Our diesel pusher made it to the top of
the Sierra Nevadas a lot easier than the
"Donner Party did in 1843.
The snow that winter was as high
as the stone work on this statue
honoring those brave emigrants.
Mary and her former principal, Judy Sander enjoyed an
afternoon together.
The dancing waters at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
South Las Vegas Blvd. was all desert just a few years ago.
The "Fremont Street Experience" was celebrating "October
Fright Fest"  in its overhead light show.
As always, we enjoy getting together with Don and Bonnie
Wolfe during our stay in Las Vegas.
 
It's good to be home!
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